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    Chapter 4

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    We plowed along bravely for a week or more, and without any conflict of
    jurisdiction among the captains worth mentioning. The passengers soon
    learned to accommodate themselves to their new circumstances, and life in
    the ship became nearly as systematically monotonous as the routine of a
    barrack. I do not mean that it was dull, for it was not entirely so by
    any means--but there was a good deal of sameness about it. As is always
    the fashion at sea, the passengers shortly began to pick up sailor terms
    --a sign that they were beginning to feel at home. Half-past six was no
    longer half-past six to these pilgrims from New England, the South, and
    the Mississippi Valley, it was "seven bells"; eight, twelve, and four
    o'clock were "eight bells"; the captain did not take the longitude at
    nine o'clock, but at "two bells." They spoke glibly of the "after
    cabin," the "for'rard cabin," "port and starboard" and the "fo'castle."

    At seven bells the first gong rang; at eight there was breakfast, for
    such as were not too seasick to eat it. After that all the well people
    walked arm-in-arm up and down the long promenade deck, enjoying the fine
    summer mornings, and the seasick ones crawled out and propped themselves
    up in the lee of the paddle-boxes and ate their dismal tea and toast, and
    looked wretched. From eleven o'clock until luncheon, and from luncheon
    until dinner at six in the evening, the employments and amusements were
    various. Some reading was done, and much smoking and sewing, though not
    by the same parties; there were the monsters of the deep to be looked
    after and wondered at; strange ships had to be scrutinized through
    opera-glasses, and sage decisions arrived at concerning them; and more
    than that, everybody took a personal interest in seeing that the flag was
    run up and politely dipped three times in response to the salutes of
    those strangers; in the smoking room there were always parties of
    gentlemen playing euchre, draughts and dominoes, especially dominoes,
    that delightfully harmless game; and down on the main deck, "for'rard"
    --for'rard of the chicken-coops and the cattle--we had what was called
    "horse billiards." Horse billiards is a fine game. It affords good,
    active exercise, hilarity, and consuming excitement. It is a mixture of
    "hop-scotch" and shuffleboard played with a crutch. A large hop-scotch
    diagram is marked out on the deck with chalk, and each compartment
    numbered. You stand off three or four steps, with some broad wooden
    disks before you on the deck, and these you send forward with a vigorous
    thrust of a long crutch. If a disk stops on a chalk line, it does not
    count anything. If it stops in division No. 7, it counts 7; in 5, it
    counts 5, and so on. The game is 100, and four can play at a time. That
    game would be very simple played on a stationary floor, but with us, to
    play it well required science. We had to allow for the reeling of the
    ship to the right or the left. Very often one made calculations for a
    heel to the right and the ship did not go that way. The consequence was
    that that disk missed the whole hopscotch plan a yard or two, and then
    there was humiliation on one side and laughter on the other.

    When it rained the passengers had to stay in the house, of course--or at
    least the cabins--and amuse themselves with games, reading, looking out
    of the windows at the very familiar billows, and talking gossip.

    By 7 o'clock in the evening, dinner was about over; an hour's promenade
    on the upper deck followed; then the gong sounded and a large majority of
    the party repaired to the after cabin (upper), a handsome saloon fifty or
    sixty feet long, for prayers. The unregenerated called this saloon the
    "Synagogue." The devotions consisted only of two hymns from the Plymouth
    Collection and a short prayer, and seldom occupied more than fifteen
    minutes. The hymns were accompanied by parlor-organ music when the sea
    was smooth enough to allow a performer to sit at the instrument without
    being lashed to his chair.

    After prayers the Synagogue shortly took the semblance of a writing
    school. The like of that picture was never seen in a ship before.
    Behind the long dining tables on either side of the saloon, and scattered
    from one end to the other of the latter, some twenty or thirty gentlemen
    and ladies sat them down under the swaying lamps and for two or three
    hours wrote diligently in their journals. Alas! that journals so
    voluminously begun should come to so lame and impotent a conclusion as
    most of them did! I doubt if there is a single pilgrim of all that host
    but can show a hundred fair pages of journal concerning the first twenty
    days' voyaging in the Quaker City, and I am morally certain that not ten
    of the party can show twenty pages of journal for the succeeding twenty
    thousand miles of voyaging! At certain periods it becomes the dearest
    ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a
    book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him
    the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world,
    and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find
    out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance,
    devotion to duty for duty's sake, and invincible determination may hope
    to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal
    and not sustain a shameful defeat.

    One of our favorite youths, Jack, a splendid young fellow with a head
    full of good sense, and a pair of legs that were a wonder to look upon in
    the way of length and straightness and slimness, used to report progress
    every morning in the most glowing and spirited way, and say:

    "Oh, I'm coming along bully!" (he was a little given to slang in his
    happier moods.) "I wrote ten pages in my journal last night--and you
    know I wrote nine the night before and twelve the night before that.
    Why, it's only fun!"

    "What do you find to put in it, Jack?"

    "Oh, everything. Latitude and longitude, noon every day; and how many
    miles we made last twenty-four hours; and all the domino games I beat and
    horse billiards; and whales and sharks and porpoises; and the text of the
    sermon Sundays (because that'll tell at home, you know); and the ships we
    saluted and what nation they were; and which way the wind was, and
    whether there was a heavy sea, and what sail we carried, though we don't
    ever carry any, principally, going against a head wind always--wonder
    what is the reason of that?--and how many lies Moult has told--Oh, every
    thing! I've got everything down. My father told me to keep that
    journal. Father wouldn't take a thousand dollars for it when I get it
    done."

    "No, Jack; it will be worth more than a thousand dollars--when you get it
    done."

    "Do you?--no, but do you think it will, though?

    "Yes, it will be worth at least as much as a thousand dollars--when you
    get it done. May be more."

    "Well, I about half think so, myself. It ain't no slouch of a journal."

    But it shortly became a most lamentable "slouch of a journal." One night
    in Paris, after a hard day's toil in sightseeing, I said:

    "Now I'll go and stroll around the cafes awhile, Jack, and give you a
    chance to write up your journal, old fellow."

    His countenance lost its fire. He said:

    "Well, no, you needn't mind. I think I won't run that journal anymore.
    It is awful tedious. Do you know--I reckon I'm as much as four thousand
    pages behind hand. I haven't got any France in it at all. First I
    thought I'd leave France out and start fresh. But that wouldn't do,
    would it? The governor would say, 'Hello, here--didn't see anything in
    France? That cat wouldn't fight, you know. First I thought I'd copy
    France out of the guide-book, like old Badger in the for'rard cabin,
    who's writing a book, but there's more than three hundred pages of it.
    Oh, I don't think a journal's any use--do you? They're only a bother,
    ain't they?"

    "Yes, a journal that is incomplete isn't of much use, but a journal
    properly kept is worth a thousand dollars--when you've got it done."

    "A thousand!--well, I should think so. I wouldn't finish it for a
    million."

    His experience was only the experience of the majority of that
    industrious night school in the cabin. If you wish to inflict a
    heartless and malignant punishment upon a young person, pledge him to
    keep a journal a year.

    A good many expedients were resorted to to keep the excursionists amused
    and satisfied. A club was formed, of all the passengers, which met in
    the writing school after prayers and read aloud about the countries we
    were approaching and discussed the information so obtained.

    Several times the photographer of the expedition brought out his
    transparent pictures and gave us a handsome magic-lantern exhibition.
    His views were nearly all of foreign scenes, but there were one or two
    home pictures among them. He advertised that he would "open his
    performance in the after cabin at 'two bells' (nine P.M.) and show the
    passengers where they shall eventually arrive"--which was all very well,
    but by a funny accident the first picture that flamed out upon the canvas
    was a view of Greenwood Cemetery!

    On several starlight nights we danced on the upper deck, under the
    awnings, and made something of a ball-room display of brilliancy by
    hanging a number of ship's lanterns to the stanchions. Our music
    consisted of the well-mixed strains of a melodeon which was a little
    asthmatic and apt to catch its breath where it ought to come out strong,
    a clarinet which was a little unreliable on the high keys and rather
    melancholy on the low ones, and a disreputable accordion that had a leak
    somewhere and breathed louder than it squawked--a more elegant term does
    not occur to me just now. However, the dancing was infinitely worse than
    the music. When the ship rolled to starboard the whole platoon of
    dancers came charging down to starboard with it, and brought up in mass
    at the rail; and when it rolled to port they went floundering down to
    port with the same unanimity of sentiment. Waltzers spun around
    precariously for a matter of fifteen seconds and then went scurrying down
    to the rail as if they meant to go overboard. The Virginia reel, as
    performed on board the Quaker City, had more genuine reel about it than
    any reel I ever saw before, and was as full of interest to the spectator
    as it was full of desperate chances and hairbreadth escapes to the
    participant. We gave up dancing, finally.

    We celebrated a lady's birthday anniversary with toasts, speeches, a
    poem, and so forth. We also had a mock trial. No ship ever went to sea
    that hadn't a mock trial on board. The purser was accused of stealing an
    overcoat from stateroom No. 10. A judge was appointed; also clerks, a
    crier of the court, constables, sheriffs; counsel for the State and for
    the defendant; witnesses were subpoenaed, and a jury empaneled after much
    challenging. The witnesses were stupid and unreliable and contradictory,
    as witnesses always are. The counsel were eloquent, argumentative, and
    vindictively abusive of each other, as was characteristic and proper.
    The case was at last submitted and duly finished by the judge with an
    absurd decision and a ridiculous sentence.

    The acting of charades was tried on several evenings by the young
    gentlemen and ladies, in the cabins, and proved the most distinguished
    success of all the amusement experiments.

    An attempt was made to organize a debating club, but it was a failure.
    There was no oratorical talent in the ship.

    We all enjoyed ourselves--I think I can safely say that, but it was in a
    rather quiet way. We very, very seldom played the piano; we played the
    flute and the clarinet together, and made good music, too, what there was
    of it, but we always played the same old tune; it was a very pretty tune
    --how well I remember it--I wonder when I shall ever get rid of it. We
    never played either the melodeon or the organ except at devotions--but I
    am too fast: young Albert did know part of a tune something about
    "O Something-Or-Other How Sweet It Is to Know That He's His
    What's-his-Name" (I do not remember the exact title of it, but it was
    very plaintive and full of sentiment); Albert played that pretty much
    all the time until we contracted with him to restrain himself. But
    nobody ever sang by moonlight on the upper deck, and the congregational
    singing at church and prayers was not of a superior order of
    architecture. I put up with it as long as I could and then joined in
    and tried to improve it, but this encouraged young George to join in
    too, and that made a failure of it; because George's voice was just
    "turning," and when he was singing a dismal sort of bass it was apt to
    fly off the handle and startle everybody with a most discordant cackle
    on the upper notes. George didn't know the tunes, either, which was
    also a drawback to his performances. I said:

    "Come, now, George, don't improvise. It looks too egotistical. It will
    provoke remark. Just stick to 'Coronation,' like the others. It is a
    good tune--you can't improve it any, just off-hand, in this way."

    "Why, I'm not trying to improve it--and I am singing like the others
    --just as it is in the notes."

    And he honestly thought he was, too; and so he had no one to blame but
    himself when his voice caught on the center occasionally and gave him the
    lockjaw.

    There were those among the unregenerated who attributed the unceasing
    head-winds to our distressing choir-music. There were those who said
    openly that it was taking chances enough to have such ghastly music going
    on, even when it was at its best; and that to exaggerate the crime by
    letting George help was simply flying in the face of Providence. These
    said that the choir would keep up their lacerating attempts at melody
    until they would bring down a storm some day that would sink the ship.

    There were even grumblers at the prayers. The executive officer said the
    pilgrims had no charity:

    "There they are, down there every night at eight bells, praying for fair
    winds--when they know as well as I do that this is the only ship going
    east this time of the year, but there's a thousand coming west--what's a
    fair wind for us is a head wind to them--the Almighty's blowing a fair
    wind for a thousand vessels, and this tribe wants him to turn it clear
    around so as to accommodate one--and she a steamship at that! It ain't
    good sense, it ain't good reason, it ain't good Christianity, it ain't
    common human charity. Avast with such nonsense!"
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